Judy Mandelbaum

Judy Mandelbaum
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AUGUST 13, 2010 10:36AM

Florida church to mark 9/11 with Koran burning

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 Dove World Outreach Center
The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida

 

So how are you going to spend this September 11? I have no plans yet myself, although I’m sure that at some point my thoughts will wander back to that ghastly day in 2001 when I climbed up to the roof of the building I was working at and watched the smoke billow into the sky and the two towers go crashing to the ground. Others will find solace in religious services and in mourning their losses in the company of friends and relatives. 

But it doesn't have to be this way: A church in Florida is planning a spectacular event with deep historical roots. Yes, the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville will be marking the ninth anniversary of the September 11 tragedy with a public Koran burning. The non-denominational DWOC, which is run by Rev. Terry Jones and whose membership figures are hard to come by, enjoys a reputation throughout Florida for its in-your-face demonstrations against pornography, homosexuality, and abortion. It announced its latest provocation in late July and has been publicizing the burning on Youtube (see video below) and through its own Facebook page. The purpose of the event, we are told, is “to bring to awareness to [sic] the dangers of Islam and that the Koran is leading people to hell. Eternal fire is the only destination the Koran can lead people to so we want to put the Koran in it's [sic] place - the fire!”  

Jones, the author of a book called Islam is of the Devil, has included a list of “Ten Reasons to Burn the Koran” on his church’s website. These “reasons” include 1) The Koran teaches that Jesus Christ, the Crucified, Risen Son of God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords was NOT the Son of God, nor was he crucified; 3) The Koran's teaching includes Arabian idolatry, paganism, rites and rituals; 6) Islamic Law is totalitarian in nature; 7) Islam is not compatible with democracy and human rights. The notion of a moral individual capable of making decisions and taking responsibility for them does not exist in Islam. The attitude towards women in Islam as inferior possessions of men has led to countless cases of mistreatment; and 10) Islam is a weapon of Arab imperialism and Islamic colonialism. 

So what's the solution? That's where Jones and the DWOC come in. The church’s website goes on to say that “Christians are called to live and speak the truth, and to tear down the strongholds of the kingdom of darkness. Islam is of the devil and the Koran is a lie. Millions of people all over the world, Moslem and non-Moslem, are held captive by these lies. The world needs a beacon of warning and of hope.” Hence their plans for September 11, 2010, which they are now calling "International Burn a Koran Day." And they won't be burning just one Koran, but as many copies as they can get their hands on.

Spanish Inquisition 
The Spanish Inquisition burned the Koran too

The DWOC sounds a lot like the equally provocative Westboro Baptist Church. But what is really behind all this? Both the DWOC and Jones himself have been the subject of a number of investigations, both in Florida and in Cologne, Germany, where Jones got his start in the preaching business back in 1981. Last summer, the Gainesville Sun ran an in-depth article looking at the church, which “is structured with a for-profit business operating out of tax-exempt church property, using the unpaid labor of church members to maintain a steady stream of merchandise for sale online. … Entwined with the church's message is a theme stressing obedience to senior pastors and work for the kingdom of God - a theme that persuaded one couple from Germany to work full time and uncompensated for Terry and Sylvia Jones' business, TS and Company. The business sells vintage furniture on eBay." Jones also runs a boarding school for teenagers called the Dove World Outreach Academy. "The academy members live on property owned by TS and Company, work in the selling, packing and shipping of furniture and are unpaid.” 

Islam T-shirt 
The DWOC sells T-shirts too!

And for all Jones’s concerns about the “totalitarianism” of Islam, his own Dove World Outreach Academy – whose members wear khaki uniforms at work, study, and church – sounds pretty totalitarian in its own right. According to the official rulebook, which the Gainesville Sun managed to get a hold of (you can read it here), the school's rules “include being obedient to all commands, asking for permission to talk and using only the academy e-mail account for personal correspondence. In the original rulebook, academy attendees also are banned from dining in restaurants or eating sweets and cakes, with weekly weigh-ins to achieve a weight goal. Visits from family and friends are not allowed, and occasions such as weddings, funerals or birthdays are no exception, according to the original rule book.” 

While Jones's concern for Muslim women is commendable, he sure doesn't cut the women or men under his own boot much slack, as evidenced by Rule #6: "Singles are not allowed to have romantic relationships to the opposite sex. In fact it is recommended that the time is spent completely for academy matters. Except work things, there is no need to talk at all, or even flirt!"

And so it goes. As the tax inspector's noose tightens around the church’s neck, it’s not entirely clear whether the Koran burning is really an expression of genocidal yearnings or merely a giant change of subject. 

The mere notion of book burning gives rise to some pretty sinister associations. Jones had decided to head these criticisms off at the pass. “Like the Christians in Acts 19,” his website writes,” we are publicly burning a book that is demonic. We are not, like the Nazis, stealing books, destroying properties or harming any people.”  

What, book burning is divinely sanctioned? As a matter of fact, Acts 19, which describes St. Paul’s missionary work in Ephesus, does indeed relate how "many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver.” 

Now I’m not a theologian, but it seems to me that first century so-called magicians in Ephesus burning their own books voluntarily after being converted by an Apostle and twentieth-century Florida Christians burning Korans on TV, while Muslims around the world shriek in outrage and swear vengeance, aren’t the same thing at all. But what do I know? 

This provocation – as narrow, primitive, and localized as it may be – is already bearing fruit abroad. Yesterday, Al-Azhar's Supreme Council in Egypt accused the DWOC of stirring up hatred and called on other American religious institutions to denounce Jones’s plan. I think we can expect global TV and radio coverage on September 11. If, with clever stage managing, mere cartoons can set the Muslim world aflame, just imagine what a flaming Koran will do. Amazingly enough, what goes around has a tendency to come around.

The problem with the book-burning as I see it (I mean to say, one of the problems), is that in Islam the Koran is not just a bundle of paper, but is in fact a living book which the devout regularly commit to memory. Thus you can’t really burn the Koran without burning the faithful as well. 

My history may be a little fuzzy, but somewhere I recall reading that it was Heinrich Heine, a German Jew, who wrote in connection with the burning of the Koran by the Spanish Inquisition: “When you burn books, you always end up burning people too.” Gee, do you think maybe the old guy knew what he was talking about? 

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I'm going to say it here--and say it again, I hope, in an Op-Ed piece I've done and another one I've recorded to CBS---this kind of hate-filled activity is a disrespectful, disgusting and dishonorable legacy to my husband and everyone else killed on 9/11. Shame on this church and shame on everyone who engages in this kind of crap...and thank you for bringing it to out attention. We HAVE to speak up against this sort of bigotry--and that's exactly what it is
This people are totally despicable. I really do despair of people. How can such a stupid and spiteful piece of pettiness benefit anyone? Do they even realise that how stupid and spiteful it is? Oh wait, probably not. What a pack of morons...
Rated with a heavy heart.
Thanks for posting this, Judy. And thanks, Nikki, for being such a voice of reason.
Oh my, where to begin?

My Stalinist side says, stand these bigoted pseudo-Christian assholes against a wall and shoot them all, for the good of the community and mankind as a whole.

My Spiritual side says, NO, Possum, NO! Bad Possum! Bad! We must allow the Law of Threefold Return time to work its magic upon the world. Their wickedness will prove their downfall in the end, and if in the meantime they start a war that wrecks the planet and kills billions, well, that's the way things go. We have no right to take the life of another except in the final extremity of self-defense.

My Pragmatist side leans against the wall and shakes his head wearily in disgust, while muttering, "We are soooo f*cked..."
Redpossum,
If the return is only 3-fold we'll be getting off easy!
This type of stuff is clearly designed to maintain a constant state of war until one side succeeds in committing genocide and looks for another enemy; or people actually start to learn from the mistakes of history.

I wonder if the more moderate Christian churches are doing much if anything to denounce this.
Totally uncalled for, keeping the pot boiling just to keep themselves in the headlines (and sell furniture and T-shirts).
Rated
The Nazi's did this kind of shit too. Destroying ANY religious text for the sake of bigotry is disgusting.
sorry - hard to stay away from this, especially when I've been once again caught up in trying to be a voice of reason against the hysteria about the "ground zero mosque (neither a mosque nor at ground zero, by the way). I promise you, this is not a fitting way to "honor" 9/11 victims; it's really a perversion of the freedom I thought this country represented.

And, speaking as a secular humanist, it's the height of hypocrisy to burn one religious tome and not set fire to all of them, as they all contain some pretty hateful suggestions that are selectively ignored or reinterpreted...
Nikki,
Well, that's book-burning for you. It's never pretty, and it never accomplishes anything constructive. Thanks for stopping by!
Well I am shocked! How can so called Christians behave like this! Books are a symbol of free speech and to some are the centre of their world and faith! Barbaric! J
they can't burn my Kindle copy
Since the Koran(sic) is based on the teachings of the God of Abraham I get a little confused by all of the hatred for the Islamics and the Jews and for that matter the Christians. I mean, aren't we talking about the same God? Leaving the so called prophets and saviors for another time here, isn't Allah the same as the God of Abraham and therefore also the father of Christ? What then would be the difference between burning the Koran or the Old testament or the old and new one combined? It makes me sick to think that this shameless profiteer and exploiter of his followers will rake in even more money and avoid paying taxes by trying to convince people to burn what is essentially the same book that they hold as sacred. Nobody is getting a free pass from me on this one. I am all but certain that many Mosques will find a way to mention the attacks on the World Trade Centers in a way that will glorify the murderers, just like the Christians will seek to vilify the Muslims and the Jews. Just like Terry Jones is doing in this horror show. I wonder do religious leaders have no shame at all. I wonder do those who choose to blindly follow them think that God gave them the ability to read His mind? That book they are going to burn talks about that subject, I must paraphrase here for the sake of time but it goes something like no man can know the mind of God. I take this to mean that if someone claims to know the true meaning of the supposed divine words in the Bible that they are lying and should not be trusted.
Judy this is very, very solid. Thank you. And to pick up on Nikki's comment: it's also a hard slap in the face to the twin boys at the school where I was Middle School Head whose dad was on the plane that hit the Pentagon. And, of course, it's a slap to the Jesus, the Jew who lived. These bums cam mythologise ancient and contemporary history as they will; it doesn't turn the perversion of religion, Ismam's in '01, or these Christians in FLorida now, into anything vaguely decent.
Thanks so much for this. Rated.
Thank you for this excellent reportage, Judy. I am also astounded, for same reasons, as are many other commentators here . ~R~
This issue runs up against my free speech bones. The right to free speech is absolute. If it isn't absolute, then it doesn't exist. Burning books is wasteful. It pollutes the atmosphere....and it is pointless because, whereas, once upon a time, books were rare and precious objections, today they are as common and cheap as dirt. When Christians burned Jewish kabbalistic texts in the Middle Ages, they did so with the knowledge that those books were unique and irreplaceable. When the Nazis burned Jewish books, they did it with the same idea in mind.

Today, it is virtually impossible to eradicate anything that has been published electronically, so book burning becomes a symbolic act and symbolic acts are protected by the Constitution.

It is, however, a symbolic act that raises our collective hackles because we think it's a sign of disrespect for Islam. It isn't. The veneration of the Qu'ran is an affectation, not required by Islam because, of course, when Islam was founded, the Qu'ran did not exist. It only came into existence after the death of the Prophet (blessings upon him) and therefore the veneration of the Qu'ran is based upon several different Hadiths of variable veracity that testify to the holiness of a book that their Founder never wrote, never saw and never approved.

I have no doubt that this yokel is a contriving, conniving little bugger, and that - sooner or later - he will get the comeuppance he deserves.

In the meantime, if this action stirs up hostility and reprisals from the Islamic world, as some fear, then we have to ask the question, where does the fault lie?

The insane hysteria with which some Muslims defend their faith strikes me as false pride upside down.

Its perfectly reasonable anyone who owns a book to burn that book. While I am usually with Nikki, I have to say that it does no disservice to her husband or anyone else who died that day. It's merely the mouthings of a little dictator who means nothing to the course of history unless we invest more attention on his attention getting antics.
Sounds like Dove World Outreach is low on dove, world, and outreach.
UNBELIEVABLE. Ignorant and unbelievable._r
Oy. I just hope that these guys never get a copy of the uncensored Talmud (the Church did the censoring in the Middle Ages).
The fact remains there have always been, and always will be, nut jobs around. You just found one that a bunch of us have never hear of before.

While it's sad that they would do this for attention to try to sell their brand of garbage, it's even more sad that you gave it to them. I would have loved to have read this piece but with the name and location withheld. Bring forth the garbage, just don't encourage those who may be attracted to it. Don't give them what they want.
The only thing I would add to this fine piece and the (mostly) fine comments is that I was once in a spiritual cult and can smell that deal a mile off. To Reverend Jones (whose last name is curiously reminiscent) I's say - get the beam out of your eye, but I'd be wasting my words.
Thanks for sharing this here. Fundamentalism, bigotry, book-burning & meglomania--you are dead-on with the comparisons you make to the Inquisition. Now all they need is power.
Hateful, ignorant, and idiotic. I wish this story could expire without the oxygen of publicity I fear it is going to get. Perhaps some sort of alternative show of brotherhood and understanding could be organized to offset it.
I can understand Sage's arguments tho I disagree w them. While we should, in America, grant anyone's right to be so stupid as to burn any text in public (on private propert) understanding the right makes the act no less stupid.
Sounds like another Jim Jones to me.

Maybe they are related.
The DWOC leaders are neither Americans or Christians; as they neither uphold the Constitution or uphold the love and compassion that is Christ's message.

Muslims, Jews, and Christians are all children of Abraham; brethren worshipping the same G-d.

The Koran is a holy book that has sometimes been used with evil intentions; Just as the DWOC uses the words of the Bible to enslave their students and followers and spread ignorance and hatred.

Jesus weeps.
It's sad that this sort of insanity carries so much weight in this era. Religion is a problem.
The hate people display in the name of religion is the height oh hypocrisy to me. Who does such hatred honor?
The world is moving dangerously closer to the kind of religious warfare that will lead us into a new Dark Ages. I weep. This is another example of what will begin to happen, which is part of the slippery slope to all out bloodshed.

Thank you for shedding light on this.
if someone burned some NANOTHERMITE, now that would have some REAL significance.....
maybe they could team up with the WTC mosque in some kind of collaboration.
it would seem, on 9/11, both steel and people's brains melted away. and Im not talking about the ones who died.
for 9/11 I am going to commemorate it by posting many links on the subj Ive collected over the last yr. of course theyve been on my blog for ages but nobody pays much attn until they're posted in blogs.....
stay tuned!!
i've never understood what kind of mindset allows oneself to be brainwashed by these kinds of quacks....
Those of us that actually live in Gainesville are pretty upset about this heineous organization. But like true progressive folk we can't decide how to answer it.
A counter protest at the burning?
A counter protest somewhere else?
Stand there an yell at them?

Sheesh, how ineffectual we've become against christian fundamentalism. Re-read "The Handmaids Tale".

I just wanted to show up with fire extinguishers and fireplace tongs.
Gainesville, Florida
p.s. I apologize for this mess. I hope the IRS gets 'em.
One of the things that I find interesting is that all of the god fearing fundies that screamed bloody murder about "Why don't the GOOD Muslims that disagree with terrorism stand up" are conspicuously silent. As far as I can tell (from a quick cruise of the internet) ONE Mennonite congregation was the only ones to do so.

So my question is, "Why don't the GOOD Christians that disagree with terrorism stand up"???? Fucking hypocrites!
Oh my Gosh! The thing is that they think that they are doing God's work , but so did the Nazis.
This story is atrocious. Do these people know how much they resemble the Hitler regime? I watched this video. It makes me sick.
Charismatics are natural power freaks- it's what makes em get up in the mornin' They run fundamental religions; religion is based on authority; they want authority over others.

If it wasn't the Koran it would be something, anything, else that engendered, then stoked, fear and hate of a group to be demonized ... you can't have an army mobilized without fear of something ... you can't have power without an army of some type ...

Also, to Nikki, thank you for your courage, this country, and world, are better for it.
Religion was invented when the first fool met the first charlatan.

It would be a peaceful and caring world had it not been for the hate, discrimination, deviousness and charlatanism of ALL the world's religions.
These people are nuts yet, so are the ones who read these books which were written BEFORE writing was invented.
Yes, how about that?
Look around you at all the conflicts around the world.
Every one of them is due to that thing called "control".
Yeah, bring in money and all that "other" stuff butt, it is still "control". Except, it's control by control if money and/or minds, etc.
All religions are nothing more than forms of control.
How are you women doing in controlling the catholic church?
How are you women doing in controlling your own freedoms in the shitstorm of the middle east? Put that burka on, woman!!
No, you are NOT going to drive that car, vote, get educated, etc!!

It is the same in ALL religiocorps.
The world would be better off without it as, it only leads to wackos like this corpora, er, church.
This is basically the pot calling the kettle black. Christianity has it's fair share of blood on its hands.
@Safe_Bet's_Amy: This is a statement that I hear over and over. And every time I hear it, I want to say "well then look past your TV." Muslims - both followers and clergy - are continually denouncing killing in the name of Islam. A simple Google search will turn up quite a bit:

http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/muslim_voices_against_extremism_and_terrorism_2/

Or here: http://www.islamfortoday.com/terrorism.htm

I was ready to say something about the American media not reporting on Muslim voices against terrorism, but actually they do too. Perhaps they don't get as much attention as these yobbos in Florida but what can you expect?

I live in Turkey and have friends covering the range from marginally Muslim to extremely observant, and none of them have spoken positively about 9/11; when it happened people called from all over offering their condolences.

I might ask, besides comments here, how many non-radical Christians feel the need to go out and publicly denounce everything that is done in the name of Christianity? If someone asks me I tell them what I think, but most people know me well enough to know that I don't believe in bigoted acts in the name of God. How many Muslims do you know? If you don't know any, maybe it's time to get to know some instead of waiting for them to come to you and apologize for things they had nothing to do with.
@Safe_Bet's_Amy: This is a statement that I hear over and over. And every time I hear it, I want to say "well then look past your TV." Muslims - both followers and clergy - are continually denouncing killing in the name of Islam. A simple Google search will turn up quite a bit:

http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/muslim_voices_against_extremism_and_terrorism_2/

Or here: http://www.islamfortoday.com/terrorism.htm

I was ready to say something about the American media not reporting on Muslim voices against terrorism, but actually they do too. Perhaps they don't get as much attention as these yobbos in Florida but what can you expect?

I live in Turkey and have friends covering the range from marginally Muslim to extremely observant, and none of them have spoken positively about 9/11; when it happened people called from all over offering their condolences.

I might ask, besides comments here, how many non-radical Christians feel the need to go out and publicly denounce everything that is done in the name of Christianity? If someone asks me I tell them what I think, but most people know me well enough to know that I don't believe in bigoted acts in the name of God. How many Muslims do you know? If you don't know any, maybe it's time to get to know some instead of waiting for them to come to you and apologize for things they had nothing to do with.
Argh. I didn't read your post correctly. :) So I guess we're on the same side. :))))))
If it weren't for people like yourselves I'd be tempted to call America : over.
Fight fire with fire is their motto I guess. Ok, they're as crazy as bat shit, but I have to admit being amused by this story. Burning the Koran is less offensive to me than killing 3,000 people for similar reasons. they will probably get their church burned down. I can't voice disaproval of this. As an agnostic, I can only sit back and enjoy the battle of the fundamentalist wack jobs. "You're going to hell!" "No, YOU'RE going to hell." Fuck them all. Good for Terry Jones. Maybe some Muslims will learn by example. Or don't try this at home. I love it, personally. like watching Hitler and Stalin fight.
I finally got up the nerve to read this, I was not sure my blood pressure could handle it. Yes, it is their Constitutional right to do so, but clearly they better count on "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do". I would prefer they not receive forgiveness and hope that the ashes of their their burned Korans pave their way straight to Hell. We have no control over their souls, but can we not take away their ability to call themselves a church???
Oh, I would think they can be prosecuted for a hate crime.
@Noirville, "Oh, I think they could be prosecuted for a hate crime"

This is FLORIDA, they don't have hate crime laws! You can be a bigoted and violent as you wish!

Secondly, there are plenty of other nutcase churches here in the Sunshine State. Most of them are Baptist! We have one right down the road from us, and they put up the same kind of garbage on their billboard.

I hate to sound once more like a broken record, but Florida is one of the most religious and racially bigoted places in the nation!
I forgot to add, that these fundamentalists, think anyone that does not subscribe to their form of religion is as well under the influence of Satan. That goes for Jews, Catholics, and Mormons as well! That Baptist church I was talking about, has stuff about Catholicism on their billboard regularly! They think the Pope is the antichrist.
Sheesh. Nice way to show love. Jesus said his followers would be known by their love. I think that possibly excludes these hateful people.
And the only instructions Jesus gave before his death was to share good news, not to wage war on other religions. What do they hope to accomplish but to engender more rage?
But is his furniture any good? After all, Jesus was a carpenter, so apparently they are "of the same ilk". I kid, of course. That we as a race and even as a natin refuse to learn from the lessons of history is pretty much proof positive that glabalism is not going to be all fun and games. I lived the last childhood where we could ride our bikes across town without worry. Some days I really do feel like Nero, wanting to play my guitar while Rome falls around me.
But I don't, I fight. I fight with love and gardening. It's a pretty simple plan. But I'd rather encourage life than disparage it.
I assume that the people leading this effort aren't smart enough to realize that our official "freedom of religion" at least implies that no one is going to privately limit anyone's freedom of religion. But, don't they at least get that burning the Koran might insight people to violence in other countries against any American they can find?
Or is this just another publicity stunt? It worked the first time.
And I would have to respond by saying that take this info to the social networks along the vein of the quotes on the Jefferson Memorial in Washington: "for I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

In this letter to Benjamin Rush from 1800, Jefferson explains his situation with regard to Christianity, and their efforts to "obtain and establishment of a particular form of Christianity thro' the U.S....," and his statement above was his reaction. The trick in moving the minds of people is not through persuasive argument or what we currently witness today in the partisan incivility. Facts coupled with compassion, love, and equanimity will move people from their perceptions to the truth.